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  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
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Rat (Rental)

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . PG . PAL


If you behave like a dog you'll become one. If you behave like a rat…

Hubert Flynn (Pete Postlethwaite) isn't feeling too flash. After spending his usual night at the pub on the Guinness he stumbles home and goes straight to bed, only to awake the next morning as a rat. His wife Conchita (Imelda Staunton) is none too impressed by this turn of events, and simply sees it as another example of her husband's extreme contrariness. He's sat at the table in his usual place, and is being such a nuisance as he won’t eat his meal - knives and forks are buggers when you don’t have opposable thumbs.

Cue a journalist, Phelim Spratt (David Wilmot), who heard of what has transpired via an obscure local radio station, and has pound signs in his eyes at the thought of writing a book on this strange event. Conchita's eyes eventually light up to the fiscal possibilities her husband's curious transformation may offer, especially as a rat can’t exactly claim the dole, and ends up inviting Phelim (or Felix as she keeps calling him) to stay - after some wheedling on his behalf.

Family arguments ensue when Hubert and Conchita's son Pius, who is studying for the priesthood, declares that they should kill their unholy patriarch - and after all, he has been soiling the doilies - however Hubert is lucky that sanity prevails from his daughter Marietta, and he avoids a fiery death in the stove for the delights of being shipped off to the maggot factory on the far side of Dunlaven. He finds his way home on Christmas Eve however, and ends up causing quite a few headaches for those in his family for whom money is thicker than blood.

"Of course he's white - it wouldn’t be very natural to turn into a black rat..."

As you may have gathered, Rat does have quite a silly premise which could have led this to end up being a complete disaster. What saves it and makes it quite a crackingly fun little watch in the end is the way in which all involved underplay things in a marvellous, almost deadpan, way - he's turned into a rat, life goes on. Performances are uniformly great, and as would be hoped there are a couple of slightly out there turns from some of the smaller players to balance the seriousness of others. The actual rodent effects courtesy of Jim Henson's Creature Shop sit nicely and are surprisingly realistic at most times (wringing out a Guinness-sodden rat like a sponge has to be seen to be truly appreciated…), and combine with some clever direction at times, including some intriguing "rat's eye view" camerawork.


Almost ninety minutes squished onto a single layer, tsk tsk - rather lazy don’t you think? Still, whilst nothing particularly startling, the image is fairly clean throughout, with nothing much in the way of culprits such as grain, flecks or aliasing - although some more eagle-eyed viewers (I'm not going to ask what you did that caused you to turn into an eagle) may notice slight outbreaks of MPEG Lego-blocking on the odd occasion.

Colour is typical of most anything from the UK, with quite the dull, grey appearance in most instances, although when more vivid things pop up they scrub up quite nicely. Rat is presented at a ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphically enhanced.


What's with all these boring old Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks on very recent films we've been getting lately? Sure there isn’t much call for sonic fireworks in a film such as this, however you have to wonder if some of these companies are even trying. This whine aside, the sound is perfectly serviceable throughout Rat, with dialogue most always clear - although the standard proviso stands that some may have troubles catching on to the Irish accents and often frantically reeled off dialogue at times. Needless to say you shouldn’t expect much in the way of surround action, even if your gear can process standard stereo stuff for a five or six speaker arrangement.

The music supervisor for this was one Bob Geldof - yes, he of the Boomtown Rats, Live Aid and Paula Yates fame. In tandem with a former Rat band mate (how much more appropriate could you get?) he has assembled a soundtrack that features everything from Doris Day to the classical O Fortuna, with a superb collection of Delilah-like '60s tracks thrown in for good measure.


Damn, looks like the vermin done gone and ate all the extras - well except for a rather overbright trailer that gives away a bit too much of the film - they must have encoded this bit of the disc with some Ratsak. Oh, there's a silent, inanimate menu, too...


After starting a tad slowly, Rat ends up to be quite an engrossing, most definitely rather out-there comedic story which provides a great way to while away another hour and a half of your life. There is offbeat humour aplenty, all wrapped up in what ends up quite the delightful, almost heartfelt moral tale - even if it does veer more towards being one of the 'old wives' variety.

Being a rental only release negates any need to question the value of this disc - which to be honest is just as well - however for what it is designed for many should find this an enjoyable, slightly oddball, romp to take home one night.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from this, and I should be less catty in fut-MIAOWWWWWRRRRR...

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      And I quote...
    "A delightful, rather out-there comedic Irish moral tale - even if it does veer more towards being one of the 'old wives' variety..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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